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8450 - Mesoamericans in Nicaragua and the Mixteca-Puebla Problem

The beautiful polychrome ceramics of Pacific Nicaragua’s Sapoá Period (AD 800 – 1350) have long been touted as the southernmost manifestation of the Mixteca-Puebla phenomenon in Lower Central America. Traditionally, these ceramics have been treated as de facto cultural markers of two independent migrant groups of Mesoamerican origin: the Chorotega, Oto-Mangueans who arrived first and who are usually associated with the earlier appearing Papagayo Polychrome—a ceramic type with apparent linkages to the Southeastern Maya Periphery—and the Nicarao, later arriving Nahuas who are commonly linked to the later appearing Vallejo Polychrome, the Nicaraguan ceramic type that demonstrates the most striking iconographic similarities to Central Mexican “codex-style” art. This paper will reevaluate these traditional assumptions in light of iconographical and formal evidence that both polychrome types were produced by potters working in a common potting tradition rather than in two distinct traditions.

Keywords: Mesoamerica, art style, Nicaragua, ceramics

Author: Steinbrenner, Larry (Red Deer College, Canada / Kanada)

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